The population respects the restrictions imposed by the Federal Council. This shows the analysis of mobile phone data, says Health Minister Berset. At the same time, he makes it clear that the fight against the corona virus will take a long time.
Swiss people can no longer eat in the restaurant. You should no longer meet with friends. And their children can no longer go to school. The restrictions imposed by the Federal Council in the fight against the coronavirus are drastic and will last at least three weeks. “This is not a 100-meter run, but a marathon,” Health Minister Alain Berset told the media on Wednesday. It sounded as if the Federal Council expected to extend the measures beyond April 19. When asked by a journalist, Berset evaded and said that the Federal Council still had to analyze this.
It is already clear today that at least certain restrictions will apply longer. Switzerland had to adapt to this situation – over several months or even years. Berset drew a wave motion in the air with one finger. As if to make it clear that progress and setbacks in the fight against the virus alternated. Perseverance is required, said Berset: “We are only at the beginning.”
After initial difficulties, the population now seems to be adhering well to government guidelines. According to Berset, it cannot be taken for granted that the restrictions are respected. A look at the streets of Bern or Zurich shows that there are significantly fewer people on the road. The federal government tries to get a more complete picture by evaluating cell phone data. The data can be used to understand how people move outdoors. This allows conclusions to be drawn as to whether the population adheres to the Federal Council’s guidelines. The data analysis is done retrospectively and anonymously, Berset assured. Initial results showed that the recommendations and guidelines were being followed.
What do the measures bring?
A glimmer of hope emerged early in the week as the increase in new Covid 19 cases slowed slightly. Are the Federal Council’s measures already effective? According to federal epidemiologist Daniel Koch, it is still too early to draw conclusions. The course will be analyzed in detail and comments will be made this week. On request, other epidemiologists say that they expected the Federal Council’s restrictions to have a strong effect. However, the official figures lag behind reality by around ten days. This is due to the processing time of the data (five days) and the average incubation time (five and a half days). The measures taken by the federal government should be reflected in the number of cases at the beginning of next week at the latest.
As of Wednesday, however, the numbers rose again more strongly. 929 new cases were reported. The health minister spoke of an “expected increase”. In the meantime, 9765 people in Switzerland have tested positive for the corona virus. 150 people died of the disease, as data from the cantons show. So there is still no clear trend, according to which the growth in the number of cases is declining.
Switzerland has meanwhile further increased its test capacities and, according to Berset, will soon be 10,000 tests per million inhabitants. Switzerland thus belongs to the group of countries with the highest test intensity. Berset countered the criticism from various epidemiologists that Switzerland did not test enough.
There is also good news about the protective masks. In Switzerland there are several companies that can change their production and manufacture new protective masks. According to Koch, you have received the necessary machines. He estimates the daily production volume at 40,000 masks.
The Federal Council has introduced an authorization requirement in the struggle for the high-demand medical protective equipment. This does not apply to the EU and EFTA countries – if they grant reciprocal rights. According to the Federal Council, the availability of masks, examination gloves, protective glasses, throws and other material is essential to prevent the virus from spreading further. According to the Federal Council, the authorization requirement largely coincides with that of the EU. Economy Minister Guy Parmelin told the media that the measure was the minimum to ensure that Switzerland was supplied with protective materials to some extent. There are instructions from the EU to release the programs. Nevertheless, deliveries with urgently needed protective equipment in France and Germany are still blocked. Apparently there were still “administrative blockages,” said Parmelin.
The Federal Council has also tightened the border regime. Swiss border controls have been extended to all Schengen countries. Last week the Federal Council had already decided to restrict entry from Italy, France, Germany, Austria and Spain and all non-Schengen countries. Now the tightened entry requirements are also applied to flights from all other Schengen countries. The only exception is the Principality of Liechtenstein.
No solution for Ticino yet
The cantons are affected to different degrees by the corona crisis. The situation is still worst in Ticino, which has the highest number of illnesses relative to the population. The Ticino government tightened the measures over the weekend and closed factories and construction sites. However, this contradicts the regulation at the federal level. The Ticino directive violates federal law, said Interior Minister Alain Berset. That is not satisfactory. But he showed understanding for the difficult situation in Ticino. A solution was sought to bring federal law and Ticino needs into harmony. “Crisis windows” are under discussion: They would enable cantons to take their own measures in an exceptional situation.
The Federal Council has not yet made a decision on Wednesday. He neither put Ticino in its place nor supported the decision of the canton. The legal situation in Ticino remains unclear for the time being.
In the meantime, the canton of Geneva is withdrawing after all construction sites have been closed. These can be opened again – but only on request and under strict conditions. The cantonal government amended the rules of the Federal Council regulation on Wednesday. Anyone wishing to start or continue construction work must apply to the canton.